Friday, May 13, 2016

Educational YouTube Channels: Extra Credits

Much like my last post, this YouTube channel recommendation may make you go, "Really? But it's all about computer games."

Extra Credits is a channel devoted to computer games. And that may make some people automatically assume that there can be no educational value to the shows, but this is a channel with surprising depth. The topics they cover are all related to computer games, but they touch on psychology, graphics design, economics, education, and history. Here are just two examples of shows that may surprise you.

They approach the topic of games in such a way that their shows are interesting, even for those who do not play computer games at all. When they cover topics such as game mechanics, they also cover things such as writing and good story telling, and those shows have made me reconsider how I write and sometimes how I interact with my students. Some of the shows have changed how I approach teaching, so while they are all nominally about games, the applications go far beyond computer games.

What introduced me to this channel actually wasn't the shows on computer games, but their shows about history. A couple of years ago a computer game company, wanting to promote one of their games, decided to fund a few episodes entirely about the history of Rome. Since then Extra Credits have done a number of history episodes about a variety of topics, including the story of John Snow, the father of epidemiology, a history of the Zulu empire, the South Sea investment bubble, and a brief history of the Japanese invasion of Korea in the 1500's. One of their more interesting series was a short biography of Mary Seacole. If you have heard of Florence Nightingale, but have never heard of Mary Seacole, then you need to learn about Mary, and this is a very good introduction.

This channel is another unexpected gem. It may be all about computer games, but if you watch it you will realize just how much educational material goes into developing and producing games. Even if you do not watch any of the shows about computer games, at least watch their shows about history, you will definitely learn something.

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